Abida Parveen is one of the foremost exponents of Sufi music from Pakistan. She received her musical training initially from her father Ustad Ghulam Haider, and later from Ustad Salamat Ali Khan of the Sham Chaurasia Gharana. Her late husband, Ghulam Hussain Sheikh mentored her and played an important role in her musical career. Today she is recognised as one of the greatest Sufi singers of all times.

She mainly sings Ghazals, Urdu love songs and her forte, Kafis, a solo genre accompanied by percussion and other instruments including the harmonium. Abida has a wide-ranging repertoire of songs originally composed by Sufi poets and sings in Urdu, Sindhi, Seraiki, Punjabi, Farsi and Arabic.

Her passion for music exceeds all norms of mystical experience. She engages the listeners to transcend temporal space and sinks in with a trance-like intensity. Her music is an overwhelming experience, a burning inferno of passion and devotion. Just like a Sufi, submission and surrender are an important part of her practice. For Abida Parveen, the lyrics and the music are her prayer and a form of worship. Her emotional commitment and humility come from understanding the message that her music conveys, which is that of love and compassion.

Abida Parveen

The Queen of sufi music


Photo Credits: Shami Awan